Police: Alcohol factor in fatal Round Lake Park train crash
Father and his 7-year-old daughter killed
Police say alcohol was a factor in a crash that killed a man and his daughter when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by a Metra train on Route 134 in Round Lake Park on Wednesday night.
Francisco Carranza, whose driver's license listed an address on Vista Drive in Island Lake, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash due to multiple traumatic injuries, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said Thursday.
Authorities said Carranza's 7-year-old daughter, Alyssa M. Carranza, lived on Applegate Court in Round Lake.
Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko said the preliminary report shows Carranza's Range Rover was heading west on Route 134 about 5:55 p.m. when it drove through the railroad crossing gate at Porter Drive.
Filenko said the vehicle was hit by the Metra Milwaukee District North Line train No. 2129. The impact sent the Range Rover onto the west side of the railroad tracks where it hit a sport utility vehicle, Filenko said.
The passengers in the SUV -- including at least one infant -- were not injured in the crash, he said.
Rudd said Carranza was wearing a seat belt and was found dead inside the Range Rover.
As investigators from the Major Crash Assistance Team in Lake County were investigating the crash about an hour later, Filenko said, Alyssa's body was found in a ditch about 50 feet from the crash.
Rudd said the girl, who was not wearing a seat belt or in a child safety seat, was ejected from the vehicle following impact and hit a stationary object.
Filenko said alcohol played a role in the fatal crash.
Alyssa was in second grade at St. Joseph Catholic School in Round Lake, Principal Tammy Kleckner confirmed. Kleckner said counselors were brought into the 209-pupil school Thursday and will be there as needed.
She described Alyssa as "a ray of sunshine" who was new to the school for the 2013-14 academic year, but was familiar with some girls from competitive cheerleading. She said Alyssa quickly made friends and gained a reputation for being willing to play with anyone along the way.
Several students shared their memories of Alyssa as part of the grieving process at St. Joseph.
"One of the kids said she was so smart and got a lot of awards," Kleckner told the Daily Herald.
Filenko said Carranza had a driver's license registered to an Island Lake address, but investigators believe he was living in Round Lake Beach and never formally changed the address on his license.
Police are also investigating whether the crossing gates were operational at the time of the accident. Filenko said one gate was hit during the accident and broke off, indicating it was down when the crash occurred.
"We have to review video of the crash to determine exactly what happened," he said.
Metra spokesman Tom Miller said the train was traveling about 60 mph on its way to the Round Lake station when the crash took place.
"It appeared that the driver drove through or around downed gates at Route 134," Miller said.
It's the second crash at this crossing this month, officials said.
An unmarked Lake County sheriff's squad car was hit by a Metra train about 10:20 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6. A detective was driving the vehicle across the tracks when the gates began to lower. A van in front of the vehicle stopped to turn, and the detective hit the brakes, swerved and got stuck in the snow next to the tracks, Lake County officials said.
The officer exited the vehicle before the train hit the rear end of the car, badly damaging it.